Cybersecurity, data protection and enhanced cross-border cooperation: CONSULEGIS Spring Conference 2017 wrap-up

Recently, a group of Horizons professionals represented the firm at the CONSULEGIS Spring Conference held in Amsterdam 11-14 May. CONSULEGIS is an international network of independent law firms, in-house lawyers and related professional advisors founded in 1990. The group includes members from 45 countries and 150 cities worldwide.

Among several hot-topic issues addressed at the conference of legal service providers was the legal services industry itself, including meeting the needs of corporate clients as they respond to the fast-changing tech advances and digitalisation widely taking place across industries and across borders.

On Cybersecurity

A presentation and panel discussion on Cybersecurity and the risk of data theft was held during the conference, whose participants included Horizons legal advisor Maggie Yu, who reports:

“Much of the cybersecurity discussion focussed on the idea that ‘know-how’ [the general term for any unique knowledge and/or skills regarding manufacture, products and services] essentially cannot be protected one-hundred percent in the digital era. That even when employing business best practices of marking information as confidential, restricting distribution and the signing of non-disclosure or non-competitive agreements, know- how can hardly be legally protected, since its value lays in the secret. However, in the digital era enterprises are vulnerable to misappropriation of valuable information, including theft.

“Today, companies are no longer the sole guardians of their information. They rely on external protections provided by both web operators and regulations put forth by governmental bodies. On June 1, the Cybersecurity Law of China will go into effect, increasing the national government’s jurisdiction over the business of cybersecurity. How this effects enterprises operating in China, many of which are engaged in an exchange of digital information with overseas counterparts, remains to be seen.”

You can read an overview of China’s new cybersecurity law here.

On data protection

A companion topic to cybersecurity, data protection was also well-discussed among legal professionals attending the conference. Horizons legal advisor Su Qi comments:

“The most focused topic during CONSULEGIS was data protection, particularly since we are now in the two-year transition period of the General Data Protection Regulation (GPDR) (EU) 2016/679. Coming into force May 2018, it will introduce major changes to the law on the processing of personal data in the EU. The regulation is aimed to enhance and unify data protection for all individuals within the EU; it also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU.

“The conference is a great opportunity for bringing together lawyers who more and more are having to deal with complex cross-border issues on their clients’ behalf, data protection just being one of them. For those of us from Horizons China, it allows us to mix with CONSULEGIS members from both the EU and around the world, and begin to grasp new legal frameworks from different jurisdictions.”

On cross-border cooperation

The core mission of CONSULEGIS is to provide its members with legal resources for their clients around the world. And with enterprises increasingly engaged in cross-border activities, cross-borders cooperation between legal services providers has become increasingly important, a point that’s at the heart of Horizons own mission and business objectives. Li Huajing from Horizons China shares some insight:

“The spring conference brought lawyers both from Europe and wider corners of the world together, including places such as Costa Rico, Japan and India. Our team was delighted to both see those who attended the Shanghai conference last October; we also took advantage of the opportunity to connect with new lawyers attending the Amsterdam event.

“From start to finish, the conference highlighted the digital impact within the legal sector, everything from the promulgation of cybersecurity regulations around the world to the industry disruption brought upon by the emergence of legal technology and the solutions is has come to offer.

“In addition, we [Horizons] introduced our China Roadshow concept to the CONSULEGIS members, which was well received with many expressing a strong interest to participate this fall. The roadshow endeavours to bring a team of multi-country, cross-border legal services providers on a seven-city tour introducing their expertise and services to Chinese enterprises and investors with interest in overseas activities and prospective partnerships.

“All-in-all, these conferences are a great opportunity to gain useful insight into practises outside of our jurisdiction. What’s more, they help us build relationships with firms and individuals from far and near.”

You can learn more about CONSULEGIS at The group’s autumn conference will take place in Osaka, Japan, 12-15 October 2017.

Maggie Yu is Horizons China legal advisor. You can email her at

SU Qi is Horizons China salary partner and the firm’s operations department director. She most recently wrote about Trademark distinctiveness in China. You can email her at

Li Huajing is Horizons China contributing writer and editor to The Square. She most recently wrote about the new global Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters, more commonly referred to as Automatic Exchange of Information or AEOI. You can email her at

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